In March Sarah Odedina will be at the 6th Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. In today’s blog post Sarah answers some questions about publishing and the festival.
Previously posted on https://www.emirateslitfest.com/
I am very much looking forward to being able to listen to some of the world’s premier authors talk about their work. As a reader it is thrilling to hear an author you admire talk about their books and their writing. As a publisher it is also thrilling to see so many ‘fans of reading’. There tends to be a lot of talk about how reading is a dying pastime and yet a literary festival thronging with avid readers, delighted to be listening to authors, is a reassurance that what we are doing does still have a vital and important role.
I have always loved stories. I find that I become very transported by a good story and even as a child I was mesmerised by the fact that someone, somewhere, had sat down with an idea and transformed that in to a book. I suppose being a publisher is a way of enjoying that pleasure even further in that I have become part of the process of creating the stories. It is a privileged role and one that I really relish.
Can you tell us about your experience publishing books?
I worked for a long time as a rights person in publishing before I moved to being a publisher. The professional journey was an important one as starting in a commercial role meant that I have never ever forgotten how important it is to sell books. When I first moved in to editorial and first started working more closely with authors on making books I felt an immense surge of excitement, and still feel that excitement. It seemed to me that I had got to the bit of the business that was most important. The authors work is the furnace that drives the train so to speak. When I get finished copies of any book I have worked on I feel that I am in receipt of a treasure. Something to be so proud of and excited by. Then when I see the books by our authors in shops I know that that treasured object with its precious pages of imagination will also be treasured by other people – by strangers – and somehow we will all be linked because we have all read and (hopefully) enjoyed that story. It is a sort of alchemy.
I have so many! When I was a child I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder and C.S. Lewis. I also loved Enid Blyton. Now I think I can say my reading tastes are as wide ranging and of books I recently read I am particularly excited by Lola Shoneyin, Gillian Flynn, Chris Riddell and (I know I am rather late to her) Donna Tartt. The Secret History is as good as everyone says it is!
What would you have been if you weren’t a publisher?
If I weren’t a publisher I am not at all sure that there is anything else I could do. It seems such a natural fit for me. I don’t really have a ‘job’. Rather I have a great life surrounded by books and working with the authors who breathe life into all those stories that start with germs of ideas.